I believed that I would never be able to find a rhythm of life that would allow me to work hard and get enough rest, the days just don’t have enough hours! I was resigned to living with fatigue and dark circles as long as I didn’t want to be homeless, but two Spanish doctors (father and daughter) saved my life.
The Tokei Method is a proposal developed by doctors Eduard and Carla Estivill and shared in a book of the same name. It is a series of criteria and practices that seek to tune people’s activities to natural biological rhythms and, in particular, to achieve a deep and restorative rest.
The initial idea is that proper sleep is the basis for everything else. It defends that the rest of the activities should be organized from the dream and not the other way around. The axis of everything are the biological clocks. The Estivill point out that the body is full of clocks and that learning to synchronize them is decisive.
The Tokei Method brings together a series of knowledge, principles and recommendations to achieve adequate rest, but also greater productivity during the day. Both aspects are closely related and influence not only emotional and mental well-being but also physical health. Let’s see what this is about.
Chronobiology and how to get the best out of our bodies
We all know the body’s biological clock, or as it is scientifically known: the circadian cycle. This process is regulated and altered by many external and internal stimuli, such as sunlight, food, temperature, and chemical processes.
When everything is working well, your circadian cycle makes you wake up around 6 or 8 in the morning, maintain energy throughout the day until at 10 or 12 at night you can sleep easily. But let’s be honest, you and I know that this only happens in movies.
Around 70 million people in the United States suffer from severe sleep problems, and to all of you who are reading this and are part of that statistic: we homies.
Although while the circadian cycle can be adjusted to wake up or fall asleep a few hours later or earlier, there is a fine line between having a personalized cycle and having a sleep disorder.
Nail the Tokei Method in 7 Simple Steps
As the book is not yet available in English and I know that many of you did not pay attention in Spanish classes with Mrs. Vazquez, it summarizes the 7 key factors to implement the Tokei method in your daily lives.
Basically all this consists of developing certain habits to synchronize our internal clocks with our daily routines, in order to get the best out of us every day. If you are in night mode in the middle of the day, you will not do well at work. If you’re in beast mode at 3am, you won’t be resting properly.
1. Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock
The mobile phone has been one of the great enemies of the circadian cycle, and not only should you not have yours around when you go to sleep, you should not even use it as an alarm clock. In addition to the distractions that it can cause us in the middle of the night, the Estivill recommend using a light alarm clock.
These alarm clocks emulate natural sunlight and provide us with a more effective awakening, since as I mentioned, light regulates our circadian cycle.
2. Exercise in the first light of day
I know this sounds like advice from a CrossFit junky, but it is actually very useful. It would be best if you take some time before you go to work to take an hour of outdoor activities. Do stretches, some exercises and so the signal to your body will be clear: it is time to start the engines. In this way, your mind will have the correct rhythm for the rest of the day.
3. Never eat breakfast in a hurry
You must organize yourself to be able to have enough time to prepare a good and balanced breakfast and also, that you can enjoy it calmly. When we eat for the first time in the day, several internal processes are activated in our body, in addition we are filling the fuel tank for the whole day.
Don’t just eat a bagel just because you’re late, treat yourself to breakfast like you’re in the royal family.
4. Eat the right amount in the right time
All right, you had your big continental breakfast, that doesn’t mean you can stop eating for the next 8 hours. In order to maintain a good internal cycle throughout the day, you should have all of the suggested meals. It should not be more than 6 hours after breakfast until your second meal. Don’t skip meals or try to make up for what you didn’t eat in one snack.
5. Never eat dinner right before going to sleep
The whole Tokei Method consists of synchronizing the internal cycles with the cycles of your day to day, so you cannot have a big and heavy dinner before going to bed, because while you tell your brain that it is time to sleep, your body is busy digesting the two-pound chicken you just ate.
Dinner should be light and three hours before going to sleep.
6. Digital devices are the enemy
In the Tokei Method book they explain that sleep requires preparation. For that, you must avoid exposure to blue light from phones, tablets, laptops, TVs two hours before going to bed. The absence of this light is the signal your brain needs to say “it’s time to go nighty night.”
7. Your bedroom is your palace
You must make sure that your room has all the conditions given to sleep correctly. It is useless to follow the 6 tips above if your room has infinite sources of distraction that prevent you from falling asleep. Suppress everything that makes noise, watch the temperature and make sure your mattress is not 20 years old and you need a new one.
Since I started following the Estivill tips, I stopped needing sleeping pills or coffee to be a functional human being during the day. It’s all about finding the right rhythm so that your best performance matches the most demanding moments of the day.
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